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Effectively Communicating with Parents: Addressing the Needs of Baby Boomers, GenXers, and First Generation College Parents Marjorie Savage Parent Program.

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Presentation on theme: "Effectively Communicating with Parents: Addressing the Needs of Baby Boomers, GenXers, and First Generation College Parents Marjorie Savage Parent Program."— Presentation transcript:

1 Effectively Communicating with Parents: Addressing the Needs of Baby Boomers, GenXers, and First Generation College Parents Marjorie Savage Parent Program Director

2 Agenda: What We’ll Talk About Today’s Parents and College- Parent Relations Boomer Characteristics GenX Characteristics Similarities, differences Non-generational issues Implications

3 Definitions Parents/Family –Primary support system Generational terms –Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1960, 1962 or 1964, depending on who defines them) –Generation X (born between 1961, 1963, or 1965 to 1981, depending on who defines them) –Millennials (born 1982 or later—no terminology or span of birth years yet for post-Millennials) First Generation –First generation Americans –First generation college students

4 Definitions Why work with parents? Cost of college Level of communication between students and parents Parents as a key secondary audience Expectations: No Child Left Behind Parents seek institutional affinity

5 Is Parent Involvement New? Parent programs have been around for nearly 100 years Parents have always been involved, especially those with “social capital” What’s new is “consumerism” of higher education

6 Parent Program Status Family programs have been established based on needs/demands of Baby Boomers Parent services are primarily a product of four-year colleges and universities Goals of programs differ depending on schools’ public/private status

7 Parent Program Development Data from National College and University Parent Programs Survey 2007. N=193

8 Size of Institution Small schools 36.9% Mid-size 40.3% Large 22.7% Data from National College and University Parent Programs Survey 2007. N=193

9 Program Placement Reporting structure for parent programs PlacementPublicPrivate Advancement/Alumni15.40%50.50% Student Affairs73.60%34.50% Other11.00%15.00% Data from National College and University Parent Programs Survey 2007. N=193

10 The Media Image of College Parents Names oHelicopters oLawn mowers oStealth bombers oSubmarines Image oOverly involved oIntrusive oManipulative

11 An International Phenomenon Great Britain: The Agent, Banker, White Knight Japan: Kyoiku Mamas, Monster Parent Singapore: Kiasu Parent Scandinavia: Curling Parents

12 Overview of Today’s Parents “Traditional” students:  Students born 1985- 1990  Generation: Millennials (aka GenY) Parents, Class of 2012:  Parents born anywhere from 1940s to 1970s  Generation: Silent, Boomer and GenXers

13 Movies for the Ages Boomers The Graduate (1967) To Sir with Love (1967) American Graffiti (1973) Paper Chase (1973)

14 Movies for the Ages Cusp: Boomers to GenXers Animal House (1978); Grease (1978); Fame (1980)

15 Movies for the Ages GenXers—First Wave Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) Revenge of the Nerds (1984) Breakfast Club (1985) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

16 Movies for the Ages GenXers—Second Wave Stand and Deliver (1988) Dead Poet’s Society (1989) (set in 1950s) Heathers (1989)

17 Technology for the Ages Boomers Transistor radios, Color TV, Princess telephones/second phone, Room-size computers GenXers Walkman, Cable TV, Cordless telephones, Home computers Millennials iPods, Netflix/Roku, Cell phones, Laptops

18 Technology for the Ages Douglas Adams’ rules related to technology: 1.Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. 2.Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. 3.Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things. From The Salmon of Doubt, 2001

19 Overview of College Parents Today  Age: 36 to 65, plus or minus  About half of Millennials are children of boomers; half are children of GenXers

20 Overview of College Parents Today Commonalities between Boomers and GenXers  Have a good relationship with their children; are their children’s “best advisers”  They…and their students…have choices  Multiple learning styles  No Child Left Behind

21 Overview of College Parents Today Would you like a return to more traditional standards? Boomers 1977 Xers 1997 Boomers 1997 Family life56%73%76% Parental responsibility47%70%75% Schools40%58%62% Social relationships23%41%44% Sexual relationships20%46% Work19%33%41% Homemaking16%35%42% Source: Yankelovich MONITOR

22 Overview of College Parents Today Differences: Boomer Characteristics  Older—More patience, more money  Career identifies the individual  Theme: Anything should be possible GenX Characteristics  Younger—Generally less disposable income  Career must fit lifestyle; lifestyle must fit family  Theme: Anything should be available

23 Implications  Private vs. Public work time  Multiple learning styles  Different parent messages  Rebellion looks different  Parent relationship to college is different  Post-college expectations are different  Expectation about student services

24 Implications  Boomers: “Question Authority”  Xers: “Savvy”  Both groups project their outlook on their children

25 Implications What really matters  Culture/ethnicity  Economic status  Parents’ education

26 Implications Student satisfaction with parent involvement Who wants more parent involvement? FactorWhiteBlack Native Amer.AsianLatino Dealings with college officials12.10%20.50%20.70%33.30%32.20% Choosing college courses18.60%33.40%28.80%37.40%43.50% Choosing college activities16.10%33.70%27.80%39.60%43.30% From Higher Education Research Institute, 2007

27 Implications The technology gap Is it real? Can it be overcome?

28 Implications First Generation college status matters First Generation students enter college less prepared, get lower grades, and are more likely to drop out More First Generation students take remedial courses More First Generation students enter college without an intended major Data from National Center for Education Statistics 2005

29 Implications Financial status matters Families are expected to contribute to student’s expenses; if they don’t have the funds, are not credit-worthy, student cannot afford college Students who work more than 15 hours a week are less successful Families with the largest loans are those with annual incomes between $40,000-$105,000

30 Implications Culture matters Traditional student development theory does not fit all cultures Strong family ties are threatened by the separation that education brings What’s intrusive for some families is not for others

31 Implications FERPA Talk about policy, “what’s typical” Explain how parents can get information Work with new professionals on how to handle FERPA Work with faculty on institution’s relationship with parents

32 Implications Key Parent Messages Provide action steps Normalize behaviors/emotions Discuss the critical issues –Finances –Mental health –Physical health Crisis communications

33 Implications Parents will call regarding Financial aid/billing questions Housing/roommate issues Course selection/academic advising Career planning Mental health concerns Physical health concerns Safety Faculty dispute Other

34 Implications How do parents help us? Contribute to student success Reinforce our messages Provide just-in- time messages

35 Predictions Participant Question: What may change in college-parent relations based on Today’s economy? National call for volunteerism? President Obama’s call for parents/individuals to “take responsibility”?

36 Predictions What may change? Communication style and frequency More clearly defined parent roles Financial implications of higher education could be a significant parent issue

37 Conclusions We’re looking for appropriate parent involvement Parents don’t know what’s appropriate Student doesn’t know We need to define “appropriate” Explain parents’ role in terms of student development, but keep culture in mind

38 Conclusions Key messages for parents “Here’s what your student can do” “Here’s what your student is learning.” Crisis message: “Here’s what happened, what we’re doing, when we’ll know more, how you can help your student.” “Here’s where we need your help.” Consistency is critical across campus, across the years

39 Parent Outcomes Families contribute to student success by Understanding the student experience and knowing about resources available at the University of Minnesota. Supporting the University’s goals for student development outcomes Knowing when to step in to help their student and when to empower their student to take responsibility Developing an affinity for the University of Minnesota

40 Discussion What changes have you seen in families at your institution in the past three years? What’s the biggest reason for the changes you’ve seen: generation or culture? Do you think your parent messages reach all families? If not, why not? –Do you need different communication methods? –Do you need different messages?

41 Contact Information Marjorie Savage Parent Program Director University of Minnesota Phone: 612-626-9291, e-mail: Web site:

42 Resources Parent Outcomes National Survey of College & University Parent Programs Wartman, Katherine Lynk and Savage, Marjorie (2008). Parental Involvment in Higher Education: Understanding the Relationship Among Students, Parents, and the Institution. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, ASHE Higher Education Report, Vol 33., No. 6. Carney-Hall, Karla C., ed. (2008). Managing Parent Partnerships: Maximizing Influence, Minimizing Interference, and Focusing on Student Success. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, New Directions for Student Services, No. 122.

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